Target: Damien Hirst
Goal: Apologize for killing the 9,000 butterflies used in an art exhibit
Killing in the name of art is unacceptable. After a twenty-three week run at the Tate Modern gallery in London, it has become clear that more than 9,000 butterflies lost their lives in the name of art. Damien Hirst, an often times controversial artist, created an exhibit where these butterflies were forced to live out the rest of their lives encased in two rooms, never seeing the outside world again. Every week a staggering 400 butterflies were brought in to replace the ones that had died.
The exhibit, entitled “In and Out of Love,” was part of a five-month retrospective of Hirst’s work. In the exhibit, spectators walked through a room of thousands of live butterflies. ‘The Telegraph’ reported that “the exhibit used butterflies of the Owl and Heliconius species, which come from tropical regions and live for up to nine months in the wild. Those used in the exhibition are believed to have survived for between a few hours and several days.”
Many of the butterflies died from being stepped on or were injured after inadvertently landing on viewer’s clothing and being brushed off. Even the butterflies that died of natural causes did not reach their full potential in the artificial environment.
The butterflies were contained to one room where they had access to fruit and sugar water until they died. Instead of living out their days enjoying the freedom of the outdoors, these butterflies ultimately died in a white room with no windows while more than half a million people watched. When the supposedly artistic value is taken out of the equation, these poor butterflies were treated as if their lives did not matter.
A spokesman for the RSPCA stated that, “there would be a national outcry if the exhibition involved any other animal…just because it is butterflies that does not mean they do not deserve to be treated with kindness.”
Hirst’s work often deals with the paradigm of life versus death, and this is not the first time animals have been used. Because of this fact, he is no stranger to some variance in the reviews of his work. Some of Hirst’s most notable pieces include a shark preserved in formaldehyde.
Hirst has said that “a butterfly expert was employed at considerable cost,” but it seems as if the butterflies were the ones faced with the ultimate cost. Please sign the petition below to demand an apology from Mr. Hirst; it is the very least he can do.
Dear Mr. Hirst,
The blood is on your hands, so they say, of the 9,000 butterflies that died during your retrospective instillation at the Tate Modern gallery. This blatant lack of respect for living creatures is inadmissible. Not only did you shorten the lifespan of thousands of butterflies, but you forced them to live within the confines of a windowless room.
Despite your claims that you allowed these butterflies to comfortably live out their days, the number of deaths is too large to be ignored. And dismissing their deaths based on artistic value is simply repugnant. The very least you can do is apologize for the useless death of so many of these beautiful creatures.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: geograph.org.uk